plato, meet judith – AKA when my brain exploded

so I kinda struggled to get through Antigone’s Claim by Judith Butler. it is a seemingly short book containing an exceedingly and unapologetically dense commentary on Sophocles’ Antigone.

to start off, I absolutely love Antigone; I’m not always sure where I stand on it, whether I support Antigone or Kreon or both, but I love it all the same. after reading Antigone’s Claim my adoration for Antigone is in serious jeopardy. to me, Sophocles is a genius – a master playwright, he was able to infuse amazing and perhaps unprecedented depth and meaning into a simultaneously dramatic and entertaining piece. and there is no doubt that modern dramatists, including and especially Shakespeare, were enormously influenced by his writings.

I am not a fan of Butler. never have been. I haven’t read any philosophical works of hers prior to Antigone’s Claim, only articles and interviews, and suffice it to say reading one of her actual books did not help me to glean any further understanding of her – at least in her favour. I liken her to the barnacle on a whale, a parasite, or maybe a mosquito would be a better example, feasting on the misery of others and gleaning any kind profit from the labors of others. this may seem a little hyperbolic but that’s what reading butler does to me – it really sends me over the edge. seriously – my brain – all over the wall right now.

you know how in English class there’s always that kid who can’t help but ponder the metaphorical resonance and glean the deepest meaning about every friggin thing, and the rest of us are like hey, maybe what the author wrote is exactly what he meant, when he said that the curtain was blue, that was all that he meant – there is no abundant metaphorical resonance in the color of the goddamned curtain!

well that kid’s name is Judith friggin butler.

Antigone’s claim is butler’s weak attempt to ponder the deepest kind of metaphorical resonance of the blue curtain – so deep that it is non-f%^*$# -existent. who does she think she is, riding Sophocles’ coattails. butler. I swear to god – it was some kind of divine intervention that spared us Plato and butler from living and writing in the same era and thus preventing their procreation and the continuation of our species.

1 thought on “plato, meet judith – AKA when my brain exploded

  1. Ariela, I love your blog posts! I feel I am right in the room with you–your style is distinctive and you’re not afraid to say what you really think. Okay, so I’m getting the sense that Butler is not your favourite read so far. Maybe even less so than Plato, even?

    I think a bit part of the issue is that she is responding to other people who have found these deep meanings in the colour of the curtains, and half the time she’s talking about their views rather than hers. But yes, there is a lot of reading into the text here.

    Still, that’s part of what doing a “reading” of a text means, right? It doesn’t even have to have anything to do with what the author meant (which of course we can’t know for sure when the author is long dead). What we can do with interpretations is see what’s in the text itself and what meaning it can have for us, here and now. Doing so can make people think a bit differently about some current situation or practice, even if there’s no reason to think that this is the only or best way to look at the text. What’s most interesting, then, is the commentary on today, at least for me. Of course, one could do that through a philosophical or social/political commentary, but sometimes doing it through a story sparks people’s imaginations even more.

    Well, that’s how I’m thinking at the moment, anyway. May change.

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